GLENDALE, Ariz. -- As a guy who has been up and down between the White Sox and AAA Charlotte the last two seasons, Dylan Axelrod enjoyed the moment Wednesday. On the last day of camp, cameras and microphones captured his reaction to being officially named the team's fifth starter to open the season.
"It's a great feeling,'' Axelrod said. "I've been working towards this for a long time. It's been a dream of mine to be a starting pitcher in the Major Leagues. So getting a great opportunity obviously. I'm going to try to run with it.''
Axelrod, who as recently as 2009 was pitching for the Windy City Thunderbolts of the Independent League, got his break when John Danks wasn't ready to start the season with the Sox. Danks will stay in extended spring training building arm strength as he recovers from shoulder surgery.
The 27-year-old Axelrod was in the business-of-baseball place of needing a teammate to fall short of a goal to meet one of his.
"I feel like I did a good job of that,'' Axelrod said. "I really just let it go. I just decided to do my best and however it turned out, it turned out. I think I was proud of myself for not looking into things. I did a good job of like just being me and not looking over my shoulder.
"I'm just thinking about going out every fifth day and being accountable to be ready and being someone that's reliable and can compete. I don't know what's going on. I'm just going to go do my job and not think about it.''
Axelrod will start the fifth game against the Seattle Mariners at U.S. Cellular Field next Saturday.
He made seven starts for the Sox last season and has been groomed for the role as a backup plan in case Danks wasn't able to begin the season with the team. The Sox said last week that Danks would go on the disabled list, and they placed him on the DL Tuesday retroactive to March 22.
"He's going to be the fifth guy for right now and then, you know, see how he does,'' Ventura said.
Hector Santiago, a left-hander, was also considered a candidate and was told to be prepared to start if needed, especially if the Sox match up against a team that is weaker against lefties.
"Having the options with Axe and Santiago, that gives you a right and left-handed option that you can conceivably play matchups with at some point if you wanted,'' general manager Rick Hahn said Tuesday.
But Ventura said the job will be Axelrod's for at least a while.
"You could [mix and match] but I'd like to see how he does,'' Ventura said. "Give him a run at it and see what he can do. I don't want him throwing every pitch thinking this will cost him next week or the next five days. Let him go out and pitch and we'll figure it out after that.''
"Yeah, that's nice to hear,'' Axelrod said. "I feel comfortable having a routine and having that assurance definitely helps. Knowing that I'm going to start every fifth day or what have you. Not going back and forth between the starting rotation and bullpen, I think will benefit me with my routine.''